By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The 2023 Asụsụ Igbo Gà-adịgide, an Igbo Language promotion event organized by Anambra State Library Board has come to a successful end in Awka, with call on Ndị Igbo to cherish, promote, and protect their language and cultural heritage from going extinct.
The annual event, which is an initiative of the State Library Board, attracted Igbo language and cultural enthusiasts, academics, Igbo stakeholders, as well as pupils and students from various primary and secondary schools across the state.
In her keynote lecture at the event Prof. Nkechinyere Nwokoye of Igbo Language Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, narrated her exploits and accomplishments so far as a professor of Igbo Language, and advised those who assume that Igbo Language has no value to desist from such erroneous assumption, as the language has innumerable advantages and accords a lot of benefits to those who study or know it.
Dissecting the theme of the event, “Akụ A Chụtara n’Ike Na-ala n’Ike” (“Wealth Acquired Through Quick Means Vanishes Quick), Prof. Nwokoye passionately urged Ndị Igbo to resist the tempting path of quick wealth acquisition prevailing in today’s society.
Drawing from a nostalgic perspective, she fondly recalled an era when the Igbo people were renowned for their industrious spirit, yam barns and farmlands, emphasizing the stark contrast to the current trend of shortcuts. With a deep concern for the potential dangers lurking in the pursuit of rapid riches, Prof. Nwokoye implored the Igbo compatriots to uphold the virtuous principles of hard work and perseverance. She also advocated for a return to the innocent and diligent approach to wealth creation, reminiscent of the Igbo historical commitment to sustained efforts over instant gratification.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Occasion, Prof. Chinedu Uchechukwu, who commended the organizers of the event, explained that the importance of such occasion can never be overemphasized. The Chairman further joined his voice in urging Ndị Igbo to hold their culture to a great esteem.
In her address of welcome, the Ag. Director, Anambra State Library Board, Mrs Obioma Obalum underscored the roles of the public library in promoting, preservation and sustenance of Igbo language and cultural heritage. She further explained that the event was one of the Library’s efforts and initiatives primarily aimed at promoting the speaking, spelling, reading and writing of Igbo language, especially among the young ones.
On his own part, the Vice President, Ohaneze Ndị Igbo Worldwide, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, decried the rate at which many Igbo people relegate the Igbo language to the background today, and further cautioned parents and teachers to always watch after their wards and and to start early enough to teach them Igbo Language and culture, irrespective of where they were born or where they reside.
In their separate remarks, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Paul Nwosu, and his Culture counterpart, Mr. Don Onyenji, enumerated some of the efforts so far made by the State Government to promote and preserve the Igbo language and Igbo cultural heritage, including declaring every Wednesday an all-Igbo-speaking day and Igbo-attire day in the state (both in primary and secondary schools across the state), among other efforts. The duo further assured that the government will not relent in preserving, promoting and exporting the Igbo cultural heritage to the world.
Contributing, the Royal Fathers of the Day, H.R.H. Michael Ngene (Ezeike of Nibo community) and H.R.H. Joel Egwuonwu of Umuawulu community, called on the students, teachers and parents who attended the event to take home and put into practice everything they learnt, even as they condemned flogging or punishing of an Igbo child for speaking Igbo language, as is seen in most schools and families in Igbo land today.
The 2023 Asụsụ Igbo Ga-adịgide event featured cultural displays by the participants, essay writing competition, and spelling bee competition among the participating schools (all done in Igbo language), and after which the winners went home with some mouthwatering prizes.
The event also featured presentation of awards to some deserving individuals, who have contributed in one way or the other to the growth of the library and her activities, promotion of learning, preservation of Igbo language among other impacts they have made in the society.
The awardees include the member representing Njikoka I Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Chidiebere Ibemeka; his Anaocha II counterpart, Hon. Ejike Aloy Okechukwu; the MD/CEO, Anambra Urban Regeneration Council, Arch. Michael Okonkwo; Igwe Ben Emeka of Umueri; H.R.H. Michael Ngene of Nibo; H.R.H. Joel Egwuonwu of Umuawulu; and the VP of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene.
Others include: the immediate-past Director of the Anambra State Library Board, Dr. Nkechi Udeze who initiated the Asụsụ Igbo Ga-adịgide; Philanthropist Onyeachonam Polycarp; Regent Prince Ikenna Onyesoh; and Chief Chibueze Nnaemeka Ikokwu of the Agunze Chib Ikokwu Foundation.
The awardees, in their separate remarks, appreciated the Library for recognizing them, while equally urging them to sustain their good works. Sharing their respective experiences, they also advised every Igbo person to learn as many languages as possible, but to prioritize Igbo Language as their number-one and most important language. The awardees further called for an increase in the number of invitees to the event in subsequent editions, for a much greater impact.